Violence towards women takes place across all cultures and corners of civilisation. Abuse is targeted, deliberate and insidious, typically experienced through physical, sexual, social, emotional, cultural, spiritual and financial abuse, suffered and perpetuated through controlling coercive and intimidating behaviour. Although typically under-reported, The World Health Organisation suggests that about 1 in 3 women globally has experienced physical or sexual violence. Sadly, around 95% of all violent abuse is committed by males. When we look around at our workplaces, it would be both fair and horrifying to assume, based on these statistics, that some of our male co-workers are abusers, although we would also hope that most would not support violence against women.

As recent as 2017, 20% of Australians believed “men should take control in relationships and be the head of the household”. This is where the narrative blurs as overt violence is easily understood for its cowardice, although gender equally limits and controls women's independence by continuing rigidly defined gender roles and the existing unequal distribution of power and resources. It could be helpful to think of violence towards women as a continuum of behaviours. For example, what may be considered less harmful, such as sexist jokes or derogatory comments, are dots along a line leading to behaviours that cause mental health conditions, homelessness, isolation, unemployment, and at times death from murder. The impact of children in these circumstances is also profound and lifelong.

My own childhood was considered culturally normal in some senses for the 1980’s where there was limited attention and education given to this subject. On the surface everything in my family looked fine, however behind closed doors it was a different story. This made it difficult for others to understand our situation, as the perception of my father was that he was “such a great guy”. Now in recent times, the support has increased along with the awareness, but fundamentally the attitudes towards women are resistant to change. Lockdowns during the COVID-19 pandemic, combined with social and economic impacts, have increased the exposure of women to abusive partners and known risk factors while limiting their access to a support network.

So what can all men contribute to changing the narrative, whether the violence is overt, subversive, cultural or plain cowardice?  Education focused on boys is crucial in promoting a society where violence against women in any form is not tolerated. A better understanding and more practical role models of what constitutes a healthy and respectful relationship is required. Men need to listen to the women in their life and try and understand situations from their perspective. White ribbon day provides a day to evaluate ourselves and what we can be doing better to improve the world for future generations of women and men.

Jamie Charlesworth, Gosford, NSW, ORS

Jamie Charlesworth

Behaviour Support Manager

Jamie is a Provisional Psychologist and Senior Behaviour Support Practitioner with over 5 years of experience working with people across the lifespan. Jamie has a special interest and excellent feedback supporting people living with Cerebral Palsy, Autism Spectrum (ASD), ADHD and ODD. Jamie also has previous experience working in crisis support services, including suicide intervention.

Jamie’s strengths include establishing rapport and building a positive working relationship with his clients and their families/support staff, helping people identify their goals, learning new skills, and overcoming life challenges. Jamie utilises a wide range of therapeutic styles, including Cognitive Behaviour Therapy, Acceptance Commitment Therapy, Schema Therapy, Mindfulness and Motivational Interviewing techniques. He enjoys the collaborative experience and individualises interventions to allow each client to learn and gain new skills to facilitate growth. Jamie works well within multi-disciplinary teams, including hospitals, schools and supported living.